Saturday, February 14, 2009

The first Jeeves novel

The first Jeeves stories were just that: short stories, but this is the first full-length novel featuring that redoubtable butler, Jeeves, and his kind-hearted but "mentally negligible" young man, Bertie Wooster. The version I listened to was narrated by Alexander Spencer (not the reader in the cover image), and he did a very good job with the voices and pacing of the tale.

Bertie has taken up playing the banjolele, an activity that has all his neighbors up in arms because of the noise. Bertie thinks it's a lovely sound that he's making, and in his typical fashion has made the instrument his life's ruling passion. Even Jeeves has had it with the banjolele, and when Bertie is kicked out of his flat and decides to move to a house in the country, Jeeves informs him that he won't be accompanying him - unless Bertie gives up the banjolele. Bertie refuses, and he finds himself out in the country with a new "man," trying to convince himself that his decision to sacrifice Jeeves for his art was the right one.

Once in the country, Bertie runs into some old friends - one from school days, and the other his ex-fiancée. The two friends are crazy about each other, but his friend has some ridiculous ideas (according to Bertie) that prohibit him from proposing marriage. Bertie decides to take matters into his own hands and play matchmaker, and what ensues is a delightful misadventure full of surprising, delightful, absurd laugh-out-loud moments. I particularly enjoyed the episode with the heliotrope pajamas and the local policemen.

I wish I could remember whose review prompted me to go back and have a listen to Wodehouse - I'd love to thank them (it must have been a few months ago). It had been way too long, and audio is a perfect medium for Jeeves and Wooster stories. Unless you happen to be in public, listening to it on your earphones, giggling. Then it's just a tiny bit embarrassing!

Novels in the Jeeves series (there are many short story collections, and the American and UK versions often have different titles, but here is one version of the list. See wikipedia for a more thorough list):

1. Thank You, Jeeves
2. Right Ho, Jeeves
3. Code of the Woosters
4. Jeeves in the Morning
5. Mating Season
6. Return of Jeeves
7. Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit
8. How Right You Are, Jeeves
9. Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves
10. Jeeves and the Tie That Binds
11. Cat-Nappers

Thank You, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse; narrated by Alexander Spencer (Recorded Books, 1984)

Also reviewed at:
Book Reviews: "This book has all the elements Wodehouse is so famous for. The simple to follow, yet multi-layered plot, the confusion about who’s going to get engaged to who, and of course that humour which inescapably makes you laugh."

5 comments:

  1. I've wanted to read Wodehouse for so long. The last time I went to the library I stared at the Jeeves books as I passed them...I have a feeling that next time they'll come home with me.

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  2. Nymeth - I know you'll enjoy them whenever you decide to bring them home! I'll be looking forward to hearing what you think.

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  3. They're all fantastic reads :)
    Long live Bertie & Jeeves!

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  4. I might have to pick up Wodehouse eventaully!

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  5. Zoe - wow, have you read them all? You must be a huge fan. I'm looking forward to going through them systematically - I've read here and there, but this time it will be in order, and on audio if I can get it, because it was so much fun to listen to!

    Ladytink - I do think you'll enjoy these. The humor is so fresh and funny, even though they were published a long time ago. Some things are universal, I guess, and some writers are able to capture that so well.

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